I had a old cell phone bill that had slipped through the cracks, that was not included in my bankruptcy, the total amount was $560 and change. I had been getting calls occasionally from a law firm to settle the bill and since I thought it had been included in my bankruptcy I just dismissed it and thought they would eventually figure it out and quit calling me.
Let me pause for a minute and explain how important it is to make sure all of you debts are included if you should file bankruptcy, just to make sure, you should get a copy of your credit report and make sure all of your debts on your credit report are listed in your bankruptcy, make sure your attorney has a copy of the credit report also.
I found out that this cell phone bill was not included and when they called today I asked them what they would take to settle the debt and they said they they would settle for approximately $226. I asked them if I could make a counter offer and the lady said that I could so I told her that I could pay half of that, approximately $113. She supposedly went to ask a manager and came back with approval to accept my offer.
If you find yourself in a position to negotiate an old debt don’t be afraid to offer them less and maybe I could have gotten it reduced even further. Let me leave you with two other points, the first is to always get the settlement in writing before making the payment and the second is never give them access to your checking account by giving them the account number.
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Before you can set any plan into action, you will need to review your current financial status. Begin by writing down all your creditors. A creditor is someone to whom you owe money. Begin the chart by listing all of your monthly creditors, for example; credit card companies, loan payments for car or home and don’t forget your utility bills, such as electric, gas, phone, etc., those are creditors also!
- Creditor: write down the name of the creditor.
- Account Number: list the number of the account here.
- Arrears: write down the total amount that you are behind.
- Monthly Minimum Payments: when you receive your bill, this is the amount you are requested to pay.
- Balance on Account: the total amount due on the account. This figure usually varies from month to month if it is an interest account.
- Last Payment: enter the date of the last payment made on the account.
- Due Date: this is helpful in organizing your accounts by when they are due and payable in the month.
This is a very short lesson but a very important one. As mentioned earlier, reviewing your accounts means just that. Study all aspects of your accounts. Get to know the rules, interest rates, term (length) of contract, default (late payment) penalties and possible alternative restructuring plans especially in the case of a threatened or already filed foreclosure (law suit filed by your mortgage company in an effort to take back your home). Most banks and mortgage companies now have special departments trained to assist you in alternatives to foreclosure but you will need to exercise this privilege and aggressively pursue what is called a forbearance plan further explained later.
All of the information you have listed your Review of Accounts Form that you just created will be transferred to the monthly budget later, so make sure you have listed all of your creditor accounts.
From the time you fill out your first credit card application, or apply for your first credit card, your credit file is already in the works. The information being reported to your credit file is being supplied by your creditors, not from you. Your creditors supply the credit bureau companies with your personal and financial account information to create a credit bureau history that is accessed by your social security number and date of birth. The credit bureaus in turn sell this information to credit card companies, banks and insurance companies in the form of a credit report.
When applying for credit, your potential lenders will access your “financial report card” and score you according to your grade point average. Your score, for example, will either “pass” you to getting your first credit card or “flunk” you by denying you any credit at all. When starting to rebuild credit it is important to know where you are currently at, that is why it is a good idea to know what is on your credit report.
Your credit file includes the following information
- I.D. SECTION : Personal information such as your name, address, phone number, date of birth, social security number and your place of employment are listed in this section.
- CREDIT HISTORY SECTION: Your creditor(s) name and your payment history are reported here in this section whether it is positive or negative. The creditor’s name, the account number, type of account (joint, individual etc.), when the account was opened, total months your account has been reported, date of your last payment or charge, your highest balance, the term of the loan balance due on the account, status of the account (rated from 1 to 9…1 being best and 9 the worst) and the date of the last account update from your creditor.
- COLLECTION AGENCY ACCOUNTS : Recorded here are all of your accounts which your creditor(s) have turned over to a third party collection agency for collection.
- COURTHOUSE RECORDS : Any public record information such as bankruptcy filings, tax liens, judgments, repossessions, and records of marriage and divorce are shown here.
- ADDITIONAL INFORMATION : If your former addresses and past employment are reported by your creditor(s), they will be shown here.
- INQUIRY SECTION : Inquiries are listed when a creditor requests a copy of your credit file. These inquiries are generated when you apply for a credit card, bank loan or mortgage. Inquiries are also made when a creditor checks your credit file periodically for possible credit line increases, provided your accounts are up to date, or credit suspension if derogatory marks are viewed. Companies that provided you with promotional offers are also listed here but only you can view these, your creditors will not see these entries. These inquiries remain on your credit report for up to two years. Too many inquiries will reduce your overall credit score so be a smart shopper and stop shopping for a while.
If you are serious and want to rebuild credit then this information enclosed in your credit report is important to know.